A plan to possibly close the intercity bus terminal at SkyCity was first raised between Auckland Council and the casino operator in 2014.
The proposal since then to shift the terminal to Manukau has been greeted with outrage from bus passengers and Chamber of Commerce boss Michael Barnett. Mayor Phil Goff has been quiet on the issue, but is understood to have a preference to keep intercity bus services in the central city.
About 500,000 passengers use the long-service bus service to and from Auckland, many of them young, elderly and the poor. Being forced to find their own way into central Auckland would add about 20 per cent to travel costs, says the Bus & Coach Association.
SkyCity should be stumping up
In a statement issued by Auckland Transport today, it said in 2014 SkyCity indicated to Auckland Council that it may seek a variation to its resource consent requiring the company to provide the bus terminal.
Off the back of this, Auckland Transport did scoping work and looked at alternatives. A new $35 million bus-train interchange at Manukau was identified as an option and presented to Intercity buses, which uses the SkyCity terminal, and Mana and Naked Bus, which use bus parks on Quay St.
SkyCity has been required to provide a long-distance bus terminal as a condition of its resource consent dating back to 1992.
At the time, the former Auckland City Council, which owned the present Hobson St casino site, did a deal with the casino developer, Brierley Investments. It swapped the Hobson St site for land Brierley's owned in Symonds St after the company agreed to incorporate a long-distance bus terminal into the plans, which the land was designated for.
The condition is for an indefinite period, although SkyCity can seek a variation to its resource consent.
A SkyCity spokesman said it believed its building was not the best location for an intercity bus terminal, but had not requested a variation. He did not say if it would do so this year.
Auckland Transport and council chief executive Stephen Town said they had encouraged the Bus & Coach Association to find an alternative site for a bus terminal in the central city and would work with it on a proposal on the proviso little or no public money would be available to the private companies.
Councillor Daniel Newman agreed with the principle of no public money, but said SkyCity should be stumping up. Removing the resource consent condition "is worth millions of dollars to SkyCity", he said.
Councillor Mike Lee said he shared widespread public misgivings about the issue and would prefer Town and Auckland Transport to place more focus on the public interest and not be seen as facilitators to the casino monopoly to renege on the agreement it made with the city.